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When you are living your life in a manner that is contradictory to God’s standard it is not until you are plucked away that you notice. Naturally, we would prefer not to surround ourselves with people who will criticize our decisions or challenge our beliefs. So instead, we congregate with those who live lives similar to our own, and keep those who disagree with our lifestyles at a safe distance. We keep them at a distance not because they judge us, but because we judge ourselves when we are around them; we tone down our vulgarity as to not shock their conscious, we do not want to cause them to blush. But instead of thinking that we might need to change, we tell ourselves that those people need to live a little. Perhaps I am the only person who has experienced this. For the sake of not being presumptuous, I will write in first person and share my first-hand experience.
Three years ago, through a series of fortunate events, God brought me to I place I would never go of my own accord. At that time I was knee deep in sexual sin. I had been living a life that had completely desensitized me. Not only was I living a life that was displeasing to God and unfulfilling for me, I surrounded myself with people who were equally scandalous; I watched t.v. shows and movies that were ridden with sexual and other lewd conduct; and I listened to vulgar music (you know, most of the songs on Billboard’s Top 40). It was never just one thing, it was never just the act of having sex. If it were, it would have been a lot easier to stop. It had gotten to the point where there was practically nothing that could make me blush. So…God plucked me like a wilted rose from a vine and instead of disposing of me, He replanted me in a forest full of blossoming flowers. It was not until months later that I realize that I was wilted and that blossoming is the norm–the state of blossoming is where God wants us to be.
I do not want you to think that God said, “Abra Cadabra!” and then BAM! I changed my life around, became aware of my sexual sin, and then became some woman who blushes at every vulgar comment. Oh no, it
was not that easy it is not that easy. When I was first brought into this new environment I judged people because of their naivety, lack of sexual experience, etc. There was no way I wanted to be like them (I still don’t because they are not the standard, Christ is!) THEN, I walked into a new church (I had only gone because a friend went through hoops to find a way for me to get there) and heard God speak to me for the first time in my life, and before I knew it, I was responding to an alter call. I do not like putting myself in situations that could possibly result in embarrassment, and to me responding to an alter call was an embarrassment; but for some reason I just could not put my raised hand back down. Over the next months I began to dive into my bible with a hunger I had never felt before. I made time even though it was my first year of law school and I needed every minute to read my assignments. I even attended both the morning and evening services at my church. I had questions that needed answering and reading my bible, praying, and going to church were the only ways I could get them. It was then and only then that I became aware that I had truly been living a life of sin. If you would have told me that I was living a life of sin before that realization, I would have given you the meanest side eye. People had always described sin as this scary, ugly thing and what I had been doing was fun, lively, and exciting. Because of my new journey in Christ, I finally came to realize that to sin means to transgress against God; to live outside of God’s will, which means that despite the amount of “fun” I was having, I was living outside of God’s will and therefore, I was living in sin. I repented and because of God’s grace and mercy and through Christ’s work on the cross, I am forgiven. To repent is not just admitting to guilt; to truly repent you must also turn away from sin and realign your life with God’s will.
The next step for me was fasting from decorous music, t.v. shows, and movies. After fasting, I realized how vulgar lots of the music and t.v. shows I consumed were. How could I expect to change my ways and be celibate if sex was everywhere I turned?! If I caused myself to lust by consuming sexpraganda? Yes, I just combined “sex” and propaganda” into one word. Eliminating sexpraganda from my diet makes it a lot less difficult to avoid lustful thoughts. This new environment closed me off to a lot (not all) of the sin I had previously been exposed to. Now, when I leave it, I blush at things that I would not have even blinked at prior to coming here. Does that mean I do not struggle with making sexual comments or jokes? No, I still have to bite my tongue; sometimes I do not even catch myself. I do not blush or wince in judgment. I blush because I know that those things are not pleasing to God. I do not feel shame, I feel conviction. The devil shames you, God convicts you. God brought me into this environment to bring me closer to Him and to re-sensitize me. How can I help the broken if I am not sensitive to the ways in which they are broken? My past and present allow me to be alert to sin but to show grace and mercy to those who are in battle against the same sin that plagued me for years.
To those of you who have either embarked on the journey of celibacy or are considering it, please understand that this is a journey and it will not come without its challenges. However, the Holy Spirit will help and guide you if you are humble enough to admit your weakness.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from your idols [sex is an idol] I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:25-27
You are not alone in this!
Listen to this song: Out of Hiding by Steffany Gretzinger